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Surveyors’ insurance: what you need and why


A hard hat can protect you against physical damage, but only surveyors' insurance offers professional protection.

For surveyors, one size doesn’t fit all. And while accurate measurements, detailed plans, complex costings and nailed-on valuations are all part and parcel of the job, there’s a big variation in what you survey, where you do it and who you do it for.

Just as well, then, that surveyors’ insurance isn’t anything like as complicated. It can cover you pretty much whatever your surveying speciality. And that applies whether your work involves buildings, land, construction projects, industrial plants, or something else entirely.

Numbers nightmare

One certainty for surveyors is that getting the numbers right matters. That’s because imprecise measurements and wonky angles can throw a project into crisis. Wide-of-the-mark valuations and vague costings can have a similarly disastrous effect.

It doesn’t matter why the figures are wrong, either. It could simply be that you messed up. Perhaps the pressure of deadlines on a project got to you and you cut corners. Or you hadn’t checked your equipment and it gave faulty readings.

There are countless reasons why mistakes creep in. And potential errors aren’t restricted just to the numbers, either. It can be equally easy to miss a crucial detail when comparing historical plans and maps. Or to fail to take into account easements.

And that’s where things can start getting expensive, because unfortunately, mistakes = money. Surveying errors have the potential to do £thousands worth of damage and that’s something your clients are going to want compensating for.

Surveyors’ professional indemnity insurance

Enter surveyors’ insurance, stage right – specifically, surveyors’ professional indemnity (PI) insurance. It’s specially designed to deal with errors and has all the potential to be the hero of the piece. It pays your dues and helps to keep your business running.

Because whether or not you think a claim is justified, you’ll have to take time out to deal with it. That means not only spending hours poring over documents, but also having the know-how to plot a path through the legal landscape. And all while you should be focusing on your business.

Where surveyors’ professional indemnity insurance helps is by paying for a legal expert to represent you and by covering all the associated costs, including any compensation awarded. It also does a pretty good job of helping to keep your professional reputation intact.

Chartered surveyors will know all about the high value the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) places on PI insurance. That’s why it makes it obligatory for its surveyors to have it. You can read more about what RICS has to say about PI, including specific requirements, here.

Surveyors’ public liability insurance

But professional indemnity isn’t all the insurance you need. That’s because there’s also a whole world of mishaps out there with the potential to generate third-party claims against you. So, it makes sense to be prepared.

Think about your working day: sometimes you’re out on site, sometimes you’re in the office. Or maybe you work from home. The thing is, wherever you are, trips, slips, spills and damage to other people or to their property are always a possibility. And they can cost you.

Accidents happen, as the saying goes, and if someone thinks you were responsible for theirs, they’re likely to come after you with a clam. The same applies if they say you damaged their property – maybe you accidentally damaged a building or something in it during the course of your work.

That’s when you need public liability (PL) insurance. In the same way that professional indemnity takes care of mistakes, PL deals with the fall-out from mishaps. It pays for your legal representation and costs, saves you from having to get involved in the detail, and covers compensation too.

So, if someone trips over your tripod on site, or you manage to trash a client’s laptop by spilling coffee over it, you’re covered.

What other surveyors’ insurance do you need?

Remember all that expensive equipment you rely on? Bet it would be pretty costly to replace if it got lost, damaged or stolen. Especially if it all disappeared in one go. Plus, it would stop you doing your job.

Absent-mindedness, unexpected events and other people’s light-fingeredness are three good reasons why you need equipment insurance. That means contents insurance for your fixed kit, like PCs and office equipment, and portable equipment insurance for all the stuff you take around with you.

That way, if your kit goes missing or gets accidentally damaged, repairs and replacements are all taken care of. Plus, you’ll be able to keep on working in the meantime, because it also pays for you to hire stand-in equipment in the meantime if you need it. So you won’t have to let down any clients.

Our survey says…

When you’re surveying, getting the numbers right is important – whether those numbers define distance, degrees, quantities or £sterling. It’s about being precise, making the correct calculations and seeing the whole picture.

Looking at the whole, weighing the figures and making calculated decisions is also what running a business is about. And when it comes to insurance, that means calculating degrees of risk and making sure you’re prepared should things go wrong.

Professional insurance is your back up if a finger of blame is pointed in your direction. And considering the large sums of money at stake in many projects, that’s a good thing. It’s an essential part of your surveyors’ toolkit and one you should ensure is kept in good working order.

Image used under license from Shutterstock.

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